I wrote this week of learning which gifts in life are meant for us and which are not ours to unwrap. And by gifts, I mean people. Because, at their very essence, people are gifts. We all minister to each other in some way, shape or form.
Some of you responded with your own trials or blessings in the form of children, spouses, siblings, parents.
I can’t share what is not mine to share but rest assured, you are not alone.
I can share a bit of my own journey though.
Can you hear their sighs of consternation over the miles? There she goes again, writing about us.
I waited to have children until my thirties. I was raised by a career woman and achievement was placed before most else. I knew I needed time to build a career, date, travel, have fun. All before anyone else was dependent upon me. I did not want to be middle-aged and resentful at taking on responsibility too young; I would have been had I started when some of my friends did.
Despite being in my thirties when my kids were born, I still carried some of the naiveté many of us carry before we become parents. My vision for my children was unwavering. Storybook-like.
Of course my boys would be smart. And not just smart, but school would be a piece of cake. Their father and I were no slouches and conscientious study was drilled into us. Our children would know how to ace a research paper or math final by osmosis. Or so I thought.
My youngest does quite well in school and is a natural student. Voila.
I could stop there. But I owe you more, right? Wink, wink.
My eldest finds school akin, at times, to being prodded with a fork for six hours straight. And if you ask him, I’ve understated the sensation.
Smart? Sure. Motivated to apply those smarts? Not on your life.
When he uttered this: “Why should I care about grades? They are just someone else’s subjective opinion of my intelligence”—did I mention this was at age 9—I knew my storybook was missing a few pages. Call in the rewrite team, was my first thought.
When we found out this same boy had ADHD, I stopped thinking rewrite. After a few years of struggle and a lot of gnashing of teeth (on both of our parts), I realized my story was perfect in its imperfections. He was here, as a soul, to learn things. And as hard as it is for a mother to watch, some of those things would only be learned through struggle.
He has just completed his freshman year of high school and other than struggling with a foreign language, pulled good grades.
Fade to black. Cue inspirational music.
Ha. Wouldn’t that be nice?
More ahead. Dating. Driving. College admission. Marriage. Finances. Kids.
But I get ahead of myself.
My youngest showed aptitude for sports when young. I was thrilled. I thought the nerdy genes had skipped a generation.
The storybook pages would be filled with Rockwellian illustrations of grass-stained baseball pants and cleats.
Alas, no. I spoke too soon on the all-American player at my dinner table.
Instead, he pursued chess. Voracious book reading. An uncanny ability to memorize, which resulted not in the Gettysburg Address or the preamble to the Constitution, but the lesser known talent of reciting every word on demand to Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”. And yes, people, he knows both the clean and the unclean version. Which is so un-storybook-like, right?
You couldn’t be more wrong.
I cannot now imagine having the kids my younger self imagined. They seem like automatons compared to the rich human beings I have in my kitchen at this very moment.
I love helping my oldest son face a struggle and come out the other end. I may not love the sweaty, hard bits but those come with the territory.
I love watching my other son so completely know who he is and where his interests lie, even when those interests are outside of the mainstream. He brings himself to the table and is comfortable with that.
So many other messy bits. My older cringes in embarrassment when I dance. Or sing. When I say the word “sporty” (Don’t ask. I guess I say it funny.). Sometimes, when I just breathe. But he loves me and I see his protective side. We have a bond that time will not take away.
My youngest gets overwhelmed. Without some quiet, alone time he melts. Just like me. But that sensitivity translates to some beautiful things he brings to this world. And it is a good thing he has a mama who understands his wiring. That helps.
But the fact that they’re in our story now—well, that’s just golden. Really.
I could not have invented, by any stretch of the imagination, all of the intricacies, quirks, ins, outs and blessings these boys bring me.
Someone else did that. As I’ve said often, Someone far wiser than I am.
I have accepted my gifts. No—I’ve done one better. I’ve celebrated my gifts. These gifts that came in wrapping I did not expect, with bedraggled bows.
I freaking love these gifts.
And now you get it. I hope.
In the acceptance and the love, the gift becomes truly ours. And in letting go of what is not meant to be, we free ourselves for the joy that awaits us.